Buying a home is a big deal, and you want to make sure there are no surprises with any of the systems once you own the property. There are typically two types of standard inspections done in San Francisco. One is a general contractor, and the other is a structural termite.
The general contractor inspection should be conducted by a certified professional from a reputable company that works in San Francisco on a regular basis. The inspector will go through the fundamental components of the property, which include a look at the electrical, plumbing and heating systems. The inspection will extend to the overall condition of the foundation and structural support, which extends to crawl and attic spaces. The roof will also be evaluated. What the inspector is looking for are any deficiencies, and he or she then can make recommendations for repair, or defer a particular item to a more specialized professional. For example, if there are any signs of issues with the sewer line, the inspector may recommend having a sewer lateral inspection done.
A termite inspection covers the condition of the wood throughout the building, as well as structural support. You’ll get the scoop on whether there’s earth-to-wood contact, termite damage, or dry rot. The written report will typically include estimates for all “Section 1” items, which are recommended repairs. It’s ideal to have a termite inspection for review in a disclosure package so buyers have an idea as to how much they may have to spend to do repairs in the future. Keep in mind that if you’d like to have the wood underneath stucco inspected (ideal), you’ll need to let the seller know that so they can give permission to the inspector to drill test holes. (They patch the test holes.)
Other inspections you can have done are related to fireplaces (particularly if they haven’t been used in a while), the aforementioned sewer lateral, and foundation (if you’re interested in a structural engineer’s opinion). If the general contractor flags electrical or plumbing issues, you may want to have a licensed electrician or plumber do a walkthrough and provide an estimate on resolving those issues.
Some inspectors will turn on washer/dryers and other appliances to make sure they’re operating properly. It’s also a good idea to turn on the heat (or air conditioning, if that’s available), and a gas fireplace. If you’re not in a position to have appliances checked, including a home warranty in your purchase is an excellent idea. The warranty covers repairs for the first year of your ownership and is about $400.